Location of Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo
SIMA DE LAS PALOMAS DEL CABEZO GORDO is a natural karst shaft on the south-facing hillside of Cabezo Gordo, overlooking the village of Dolores Pacheco 10 km from the town of Torre Pacheco in the Murcian Region of SE Spain. From its mouth of the gaping hole at 80 m above sea level a sweeping view takes in the vast Mar Menor (Lesser Sea) which is a salt-water lagoon of the Mediterranean Sea (Greater Sea).
Cabezo Gordo is 3-km long hill of Permo-Triassic marble that rises up majestically to a height of 312 m above sea level, in splendid isolation, in the northern part of the Murcian coastal plain (the so-called Campo de Cartagena).
A large marble quarry on the northeastern end of the hill continues a tradition of marble quarrying here that goes back to Roman times when marble was taken to the important sea-port of Cartagena. The name Cartagena is derived from the Latin Cartago Nova, or New Carthage, so called because it had been founded by the Carthaginians before being seized by the Romans two centuries before our era. In the nineteenth-century iron-ore (magnetite) mining exploited veins within the marble of the metal which outcrop on the southern flank of the hill. Both open-cast quarrying and tunnelling were practised, and the miners tunnelled into SIMA DE LAS PALOMAS around 1900 (before the iron ores on the hill finally had become worked out by the time the 1914-18 World War began).
Geologists place Cabezo Gordo in the Nevado-Filábride tectonic complex of the mountainous Betic Zone of southern Spain. 100 m of Triassic magnesian tremolinic marble follow Permo-Triassic graphitic micaschists containing quartz and quartzite veins. Less clear is how this Mesozoic mass has survived as a solitary hill rising above a plain where Quaternary sediments predominate, remnants of which are nevertheless conspicuous by their absence from the slopes and hillside.